The end of the 2019 dance season for my 15 and 7 year old has come to a close. This has been quite the year for both my girls. And I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t looking forward to the break before summer classes start. Trust me when I tell you- I am happiest at the end of recital of June each year.
I write a lot about dance because it currently takes up a large part of my life. And I don’t even dance. If you know me or my oldest daughter, you will already know how involved she is with dance. Because she is my daughter, this obviously means that I am pretty active within her dance “career”. However, I fight very hard to not be a “dance mom.” But why? Let me try to explain.
When I think of the term “dance mom”, I immediately think of overly pushy and dramatic women who try to live vicariously through their children. I think of women who forget that they are not the dancers and that it is their role to support their child, not pressure their child. I think of women that create dram among the dancers and the other moms because of comparisons and the notion that they automatically know more than the teachers. I even know several people who would consider me this kind of dance mom, although I work very hard to not come off in this manner because this is how I view a “dance mom.”
When I write about dance, understand that I am usually writing about my oldest daughter Madison, because that is where the majority of my dance experiences have come from for the past 12 years. When Madison first started dancing at age 4, I had no clue that she would be where she is now. I had no idea the amount of comfort and safety she would find within the walls of a dance studio. Slowly she began to develop a stronger urge to dance and found a peace by dancing. All the while, I tried to just stay by her side and support her as she got further involved. I had no idea of the friendships that I would gain and lose with various parents and the bonds that would form. I would have never imagined a dance studio becoming like a second home for both me and my kids and feeling like a family.
As a parent, I feel it is my job to support my kids in the different activities that they want to try. Myles with piano, saxophone, and dance. Mayci with piano, violin, and dance, and possibly softball since that is where her heart keeps pulling her. And Madison with her dance, violin, choir, and performing arts. I will do what I can to pay for the activities they are in, to sit on the sidelines to watch them perform, to deal with the crankiness after long days and broken spirits, to cheer them on during both those same moments and great times, to get on them about practicing, stretching, staying committed,etc. It gets hard and I find myself pulled in many directions and sometimes on the same day and feel guilty about missing whatever else is going on. I feel their sense of overwhelm at times and their own feelings of frustration an wanting to throw in the towel.
And because I have spent so much time traveling back and forth with Madison, attending various performances, speaking to different mentors for her, and finding new opportunities for her to grow, I tend to consider myself a “dance mom”. I mean, I am right? My daughters do dance, therefore I am a dance mom. However, my son plays basketball, so I am a basketball mom. All 3 kids play instruments, so I am band and orchestra mom as well. I have kids in choir, so I am a choir mom. But still- none of those titles bother me the way the term dance mom does.
I absolutely LOVE watching my kids perform. I feel extremely proud of each of them. Even when I am watching them do something that they struggle with, I am proud. Proud of them for being involved and for trying anyway. Proud of them for sticking to whatever commitment they made. Proud of them for working through broken spirits and growing from less than ideal experiences. Just proud!
And still sometimes when I am watching Madison dance, I feel like I should not talk about how proud I am of her. I feel like people assume I think my daughter is the best. And let me tell you- I know that Madison is talented. There isn’t a person in the world that can tell me different, but I still feel strange every time I post something about her or receive a compliment. I feel like people are going to think that I am “dance mom”.
And then it hits me. I am a dance mom- through and through. My beliefs surrounding how I respond to my daughter’s talents are more about what I fear other people “may” think than what I feel. And I need to be more focused on how I feel. I need to understand that just because I equated the term dance mom with negativity for so many years, doesn’t mean that it IS a negative term or that I need to act differently. I am a dance mom!
I am supportive of my kids. I allow them to try almost any activity they want. I have allowed themselves to wear themselves thin just so they can learn the lesson of knowing when too much is too much. I don’t compare my kids to other kids nor do I expect them to be phenomenal at all of their activities. I do expect them to try what they commit to regardless of how good they are at it. I do expect them to be gracious towards both themselves and others. I expect them to be humble when they are succeeding at something, but to not be afraid to be confident.
I do not push for my kids to be the best all around but I do encourage them to be the best THEY can be. I do not criticize them if they mess up during a dance, song, performance, etc. I do not expect them to compete with her fellow teammates, but explain that it is okay for them to challenge themselves.
I am dance mom. I am also a basketball mom, a violin mom, a performing arts mom, a saxophone mom, a salsero mom,a soon to be softball mom, and who knows what else will come. I will wear each of these titles with pride and know that the negative connotations associated with some of them are only a reflection of other people’s thoughts and the actions of people. I will maintain my actions and focus on my thoughts, and then I no longer need to be turned off by ANY title.
The lesson I am learning is this: as these young ones are growing up and learning to find their way in the world, they will probably try out many things. Some will stick, others won’t. Some they will be good at, others they will not. No matter what the situation- it is my job as their parent to continue to give them the space to explore new things and to cheer them on while they do their thing. It is not my time to live through them. They are their own person and need to find their own way. I am still here and still living, so if they are doing something that I wish I could do, then I need to find/make the time to do it. Just as I don’t want people to judge me by a title, I too need not judge and give titles. It doesn’t matter what title I have at any given moment. What matters is that my children know that I am here for them and will be their number 1 fan- ALWAYS!
In all things find beauty,